The Murder Complex

murder

The Murder Complex (The Murder Complex 1) by Lindsay Cummings

 Published by Greenwillow/Harper Collin

3.5 of 5 stars

format: egalley (Available June 2014)

There is a lot of buzz about the murder complex, a story about a futuristic wold where there is no illness, no death so population booms. The only thing keeping populations under control is the murders, crime and murder is rife and everyone knows that it could happen to any one of them, at any time. Meadow is 15 and has been trained by her father to survive, who goes into testing for a role within the governing organisation, but to get the job she has to do the unthinkable. Once she’s in her new role things get worse, she meets Zephyr, a ward of the state who appears to be unimportant, but who has more influence on her life than either one of them realise until its almost too late.

A fast pace, gory and dark book, the MC is what some would term a ‘gripping read’ and I did enjoy the book, but I’m not sure why! The story was good, not great, the writing the same – there was nothing spectacular about the book. It was very gritty and I can see the direction Cummings was headed for but it just didn’t make it for me, it felt to TEEN for me, which a good YA avoids.

I’m glad I read it, and there was nothing wrong with the book, but i found that when I picked my reader up to resume the story I had to think hard about what had happened, what the plot was so far and what I expected next. It was almost like I’d forgotten the story so far, which is strange. I love books that invade my non-reading world, that I think back to when I’m in real life, and the MC didn’t do that for me.

I’d recommend it as a read for those who are between books, but not as a must read, there is promise there and I’d consider reading a second book, but my expectations would be lower.

*** This egalley was kindly provided by the publisher and edelweiss in exchange for a fair and honest review ***

After the End

amy plum

After the End (After the End 1) by Amy Plum

Published by Harper Collins

4 out of 5 stars

Format: Egalley (out May 6th 2014)

I love Amy Plum, correction, I LOVED Amy Plum until the last Revenants book, where I found the series lost its magic (and I’ve still not finished it) but in general, Plums writing is well executed, fun and brings new stories about old themes to life again. So I was keen to read her first book in the new series.

After the End is a post-apocalyptic story, Juneau and her clan survived the 1983 third world war by escaping to the wilds of Alaska and living in one with the world. In Juneau’s clan no-one gets old or sick, and all children are born with a distinctive eye mark, a ‘starburst’ signifying their closeness to nature, or as they call it ‘the yara’. Juneau can read the earth, find loved ones at a distance and even tell the future. But she did not predict the day bandits came and took her family, shot all their dogs and left. Now they are on the hunt for Juneau and the secrets her blood might hold. Juneau’s journey takes her to some places she never expected and makes her question everything her family and clan have told her, but they are relying on her to save them – so with the help of one ‘who will take her far’ she journeys across an unknown world, fighting for survival and finally starts to discover who she really is.

What a great book, the first few chapters were confusing, flitting from one world to another with no clue about dates and timings, but it soon starts to even out and the reader works out whats happened, long before the characters do. I loved that sense of discovery that Plum has painted into the book, and whilst there is an undercurrent of magic and sci-fi, it doesn’t take away from the honest story, the heartbreak facing Juneau and the difficult choices she faces.

Its really hard to write the good bits about the book without giving the plot away, there is a love story, but its not overwhelming, and although obvious its still heartwarming. The ending is a jaw dropper and as I read this as an egalley, I’ve got even longer to wait than usual, which is extremely frustrating!

Plum has brought back the spark that was found in the first Revenants book, the world of the innocent characters explodes, but its done so well that the reader is there with them, feeling every hit as its goes along, and every time they pick themselves up another disaster is on its way!

An excellent read, and I’m looking forward to book 2, the only reason it got 4 not 4.5 or 5, was down to the confusion at first, whilst I know that the reader needs to be a little in the dark there was a bit too much ‘huh’ for me, perhaps something that will be solved with a good synopsis and/or some different chapter headings in the final edit.

***This egalley was kindly provided via the publisher and edelweiss in exchange for a fair and honest review***

The Taking

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The Taking (The Taking 1) by Kimberley Derting

Published by HarperTeen

4.5 out of 5 stars

Format: Egalley (Available April, 2014)

Derting is a YA pro now, her books have an almost cult following and 5 star reviews all over the place, thats A LOT of pressure for any author releasing a new series, let alone an author who is launching a series into a market where ‘alien’ is often a dirty word. Few make the alien story line work, a few make them credible (5th wave), others take a lighter view (Lorien legacies), but many fall by the waste side.

The Taking is all about alien abduction, when Kyra fights with her dad she slams out of the car and sees a light then nothing. Next thing she knows she waking up behind a dumpster the next morning, except its not – its 5 years later and Kyra hasn’t aged a day, she even has the same bruise she did yesterday –  but everything else has changed. Her family, her friends, her life has all moved on, she’s an adult but she’s still a teen and all of a sudden there are strange people asking questions about her missing years, accusing her father of being involved and wanting to find out more about where she’s been.  Kyra relies on neighbour Tyler to help her sort things out, but even thats not simple, Tyler is the younger brother of Kyra’s boyfriend from yesterday/5 years ago – yet there is an undeniable attraction there. As phrases like alien and abduction start getting thrown about and some relegations show Kyra there is more to her disappearance than meets the eye, things take a dangerous turn and the lives of those trying to help her are put in danger – there’s only one way to save them, but what if its too late?

The Taking is quite simply – awesome. Aliens (or at least the suggestion of them), government agents, conspiracy theories, teen angst and a cliff hanger. Everything you need for a good YA book. Derting’s done well to take an easily cheesy subject matter and made it compelling, it would of been so easy to go down a little green man route which would of ruined the suspense – think of ‘signs’ when you finally saw the alien, the story was ruined from there on out – Derting keeps that question mark over the abductions all the way along.

The love story was a little mushy in places, Tyler is unbelievably cute but we go from ‘omg he’s austin’s brother’ to ‘omg I love him’ in seconds, perhaps a little more distance, but longing would have been a better route to take, and thats the 1/2 star lost for me.

A really good fun read and a must for Derting fans.

***This egalley was kindly provided by the publisher and edelweiss in exchange for a fair and honest review ***

Panic

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Panic by Lauren Oliver

published by Hodder & Stoughton

4.5 out of 5 stars

Format: Egalley – released April 2014

If you look on goodreads there are endless reviews guessing what Panic is about, many complain that it sounds like a remake of the hunger games. Its not.

Panic is a game played by the graduating class of small town Carp. To declare your entry you climb to the top of the cliffs and jump on opening night, from there the challenges whittle down the competitors until only two remain for the Joust. There are rues – no-one tells, no-one asks who the judges are and everyone pays into the pot – whether you take part or not.

This year the winners pot is bigger than ever, Heather, Natalie and Dodge have different reasons for wanting that money but they are all determined to win. But competing against your friends, and class mates means seeing different sides to them, and friendships are made and broken over the course of Panic, but the big question is who will be the last ‘man’ standing.

Told from Heather and Dodge’s POV the story is set in modern day (one presumes anyway) small town Carp, and whilst the game is a big part of the book, the relationships, betrayals and misunderstandings are at the forefront. Heather lives in a trailer park, looking after her younger sister and trying to survive having a drunk, junkie mother. Dodge has his own family issues, and the game throws the two together in ways the reader doesn’t expect.

I loved panic, it was back to from for Oliver, it had the magic of Delirium once again. Heather is instantly likeable, she’s not some uber-tough individual, but nor is she a wet rag, she’s normal, and finds herself during the book, and doesn’t even realise it. Dodge is a little harder to like, he’s bitter (with good reason), but as his family past unfolds you understand why. The only thing missing for me was any connection with Natalie, perhaps she would have been better with her own chapters, but she felt disconnected and unlikeable through out.

A great book, and for a change a standalone that does stand alone, no need for a sneaky prequel or ‘so and so’s story. I know its a way off, but go read it if you can get your hands on it. I devoured it in a day, so it must be good.

ARC/Egalley provided by Edelweiss via the publisher in exchange for a fair review.

A Matter of Days

A Matter of Days

A Matter of Days by Amber Kizer

Published by Listening Library/Delacorte Press

 4 out of 5 Stars

Format: Audiobook (available in hardcover too)

A Matter of Days is another YA post-virus/world ending disaster book, which reminds me some what of Life as We Know it and similar stories. The virus BluStar hit 56 days ago, Nadia’s left to care for her younger brother rabbit and has to chose whether to set off across country to find her grandfather and uncle or whether to stay put and wait. There is no choice, in Seattle there are millions of decomposing bodies, including their mothers, so they set off in hope that their grandfather’s survivalist retreat/mine is still there, waiting for them. They are not completely unprepared, their uncle, a military doctor, provided them with the anti-virus, supplies and training to get them started. Thus begins a cross country trip, no zombies here, just good old fashioned humans, but who can the kids trust to help them make it to West Virginia?

I liked Alex McKenna’s narration, she really brought Nadia a live, but the writing was the winner in this story. There is nothing new or spectacular about the plot, but a good old fashioned under dog story is always well received. Nadia is pretty rubbish at keeping everything together and Rabbit does a superb job of being the glue of the pair, he’s a fantastic character and the sort of little brother everyone wishes theirs was!

The kids face trials along the way, again, nothing that would surprise the reader, but the real heart of the story is the journey, the bonds and the realisation that they may not find anyone there when they finally make it

A real feel good story, if you ignore the 99% of the population is dead bit. and one I thoroughly enjoyed. No its not going to change your world, but it might make you think twice about trusting everyone you meet should you be in that last 1%.

Good fun, and an author I’d like to read more from.

 

Altered

altered

Altered (Altered 1) Jennifer Rush

 Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers

 2 out of 5 stars

 Format: Audiobook (available in a variety of formats) 

Altered is the story of Anna, who sneaks down to her fathers secret lab every night to spend time with four captive boys, all of which are obviously gorgeous and generally shirtless. These ‘boys’ are part of a genetic alteration project designed to create the perfect soldier, which Anna helps her dad with for the bigger, ominous sounding ‘branch’. All is good until one day they escape and take Anna with them, they embark on a journey to discover why they cant remember anything outside of the lab, what they had hidden and who the branch really are.

Yes its as dreadful as it sounds, the plot was not helped by the most annoying narrator on the face of the earth. She had a way of splitting sentences in to smaller pieces or adding question marks where there shouldn’t be any:

“we walked. into the kitchen? and saw. a cup. and a saucer? then I looked? and. there was. a man?”

ARRRRRRRHHHHHHH!

Forgetting miss annoying narrator, the story didn’t save itself. You wake up one night, sneak down to your fathers secret lab and find he’s hiding four young boys, so what do you do? call the police? let them go? no- you keep sneaking down there, for FIVE years. Not once did Anna question what was happening with the boys, nor whether it was right or not! She does say on occasion that she considered letting them go, REALLY? considered it?! Jeez.

Then we have the surprising twist. Except nope, that was beyond obvious too, then there was another, which was just as obvious. The biggest issue was that there was little point to the book, if I’d got no memory and escaped a secret lab, my first order of business would be finding out why they kept me there and who I was. But no, instead they go on some sort of treasure hunt where there was no real ‘big discovery’ at all.

The book was full of face slapping moment where you literally wanted to scream at the characters to stop being so stupid. But it had hot guys and a back tattoo so I’m sure the tween generation will be thrilled. Think Abbi Glines with everything interesting taken out and a load of crap put in and you get the idea.

Dreadful.

Uninvited

Uninvited HC C

Uninvited (Uninvited 1) By Sophie Jordan

Published by HarperTeen

4.5 out of 5 stars

Format: EGally (out 28th January, 2014)

Davy (Davina) has a perfect life, loving parents, great school and education, she’s a music prodigy and has a place a Juilliard ready to go. Her boyfriend is about to tell her he loves her, she’s popular and has an awesome best friend. Then she’s called from school – somethings wrong.

Davy is a carrier of Homicidal Tendency Syndrome (HTS), carriers are being identified and separated from society, as they are likely to be the ones the turn violent. HTS is also known as the Kill gene. Within an instant her life is torn apart, she is uninvited from school, sent to a local comp which has a basement for carriers, aptly named the cage, Juilliard reject her, her best friend and boyfriend disappear quickly and worst is that her mother can’t look at her. But life is about to get worse for Davy, she has to watch every step she takes, one false move and she is branded with an ‘H’ for all to see, just like the mysterious Sean whom she can’t take her eyes off.

As society becomes more and more hostile towards carriers, Davy is offered an opportunity to change her path, but it comes at a price – and its higher than she realises.

I was overly mean about firelight, it hated it, it was awful. So it was with some trepidation that i picked up Uninvited but I raise my hat to Jordan, she’s raised the bar. It was a non-stop action read, the plot sounds a bit silly, but it works well. Davy is a nice, unassuming character that learns about herself as well as her prejudices through out, she is someone you can root for. The whole Davy/Sean thing was predictable but the reader does not care, you want them to make it, whereas in firelight there was cheesy dialog and cringe worthy romances, Uninvited was more realistic and relatable for the reader.

The pace of the story was expertly managed, there was plenty of action, but also time to digest what has happened, Davy’s progress was fascinating to follow, both emotionally and within her role as a carrier. The divergence of the story worked well, and provided a good base for book two, which I’m really looking forward to.

Don’t be put off by Jordan’s name on the cover, especially if you didn’t like firelight, this is in a different league and it seems Jordan has learnt from her mistakes in previous books and taken a step into the the credible authors club.

ARC/Egally kindly provided by the publisher via edelweiss in exchange for a fair and honest review.